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Concerning The BCS

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Since its inception in 1998, the BCS has drawn considerable criticism for its inability to fairly and objectively decide a college football national champion. The BCS utilizes polls and computer selection methods to choose two teams to play for the National Championship at the end of the year. The polling, computer selection methods, criteria for high points in the BCS, and the locations of the BCS bowls are all critically flawed.

The BCS is a convoluted system run by the hot-shot BCS committees backed by University presidents, both of whom are having their pockets stuffed with big bucks by huge, long-term bowl sponsors like AT&T and FedEx. It is for this reason (that sweet cash, baby!) that the committee is so stuck in their ways, no matter how bad the system is or however many complaints they get from fans.

Also, the computers that are responsible for choosing who plays in the bowls use a collection of useless and irrational inputs. These inputs include some very subjective attributes of a team like strength of schedule or conference, whether a loss was early or late in the season, and formerly, margin of victory. All of these inputs make it difficult to fairly decide who is the undisputed national champion. In 2007, Boise State went undefeated and did not go to the BCS National Championship simply because they played in a lesser conference, the WAC. There is no excuse to punish a team like Boise State for doing nothing wrong. They did everything they were supposed to and in the end, got beat out by a one-loss team to go to the BCS Championship.

Also, the BCS system is set up to favor certain teams. The Orange Bowl is located in Miami which gives an advantage to Florida teams (Florida, Miami, Florida State), the Sugar Bowl is in New Orleans which gives a backyard advantage to LSU, and the Rose Bowl is in Pasadena which gives an advantage to USC. These locations give an obvious advantage to these big name teams and should be changed.

A playoff system would be a simple solution to all of these BCS problems. By having an eight-team playoff, deciding the national champion would be much more accurate, objective, and fair. The BCS would not be getting the money it’s getting right now, but the universities would still gain tons of money from whatever game they would play in. Companies could still sponsor the playoff games, in turn, giving the universities huge pay days.

With that, there would not be any more situations like Boise State, and every worthy team would get a chance to win it all. The locations could either be set at the higher ranked team’s home field or at designated places around the country, and the National Championship would change cities every year, favoring no one team just like the NFL.

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About John_McKoy

  • Robert M. Barga

    1) The BCS is normally very similar to the AP, so your argument doesn’t hold much
    2) The bowl games were theye before hand, and will always be there
    3) What system would you use for a playoff? You know, one that removes all bias that you dont like?

  • Matthew T. Sussman

    Unless John is advocating we go back to the AP system of national championships, your #1 makes no sense, Robert. He calls it a flaw of the system too too.

    But you hit the reason why the playoff is a hard sell. With so many varieties, nobody can decide on one that everybody likes. Eight teams? 16? Plus-one? Locations? Everybody has their own idea that are perfect enough in one’s own mind (I have my own) and they all introduce new margins of error.

    John, your best swipe at the BCS is the money factor. But professional sports (and the NCAA, let’s not kid ourselves with that “amateur” jive) is always about money. Every league is all about providing the fans with new and exciting ways to enjoy sports … if it’s profitable. Perhaps it’s sad, but let’s not demonize college football as the only entity that does this.

  • Robert M. Barga

    most people seem to consider the AP, as a person vote, better than the BCS.

    To me, the best way would be to combine the BCS with a playoff. Same bowls, and the top 16 teams (bcs) make it in
    of course, #17 bitches, and it starts over

  • Doug Hunter

    By the end of the season computers are pretty accurate. Everyone is in love with the single elimination crap. I hate to burst all your bubbles but I’ll let you in on a little secret… the best team doesn’t always win even in a tournament. Bad calls, bad bounces, and plain ole luck play a large role and in a game of inches it is often the better team does not win.

    I’d say the BCS will more often than not pick a stronger champion than a tournament would and that is why people don’t like it. People love Cinderella stories and upsets, freak bounces and statue of libery plays in the final second even if deep down they know it was largely luck and the best team overall happened to score less points on this one meeting.

    The BCS doesn’t allow you to get lucky for 60 minutes it makes you show your body of work for an entire season.

  • Matthew T. Sussman

    “I’d say the BCS will more often than not pick a stronger champion than a tournament would and that is why people don’t like it.”

    Wow, I’d say quite the opposite. Fans love chaos. Especially when their team is not involved. And I’d say the vast majority of fans want a playoff, perhaps for this very reason, other than the fairness factor.

    The NCAA. Most fans have absolutely no problem with an underdog team winning it all. See: the Jets in Super Bowl III, NC State basketball, the Cardinals in last year’s Super Bowl, and the Rockies/Rays in the World Series the last two years.

    The best reason for the BCS is more of what you said in the final sentence, that it strengthens the regular season, like you said. If 16 teams get in, three or four losses in a power conference might be enough to qualify. Teams would be lining up even more tomato cans than they already do in the nonconference just to get into that final 16. They’re not playing for the national championship; they’re playing to be one of the 16 best teams.

    Look at how boring college basketball power conference tournaments have become. “If they reach the semis, they should be good enough for an at-large tournament.” What the shit kind of goal is that?

  • Doug Hunter

    There are lots of pros and cons and I’m certainly not suggesting any other leagues should adopt the BCS. It’s unique and I say leave it alone.

    My point, which I think got lost, was that a single elimination tournament in football is not a foolproof method of determining the ‘best’ team either it’s just much more common.

    I think the 2007 NFL season is a good example to contrast voting versus tournament. The 10-6 Giants won defeating the Cowboys who beat them twice and statistically dominated them in the playoff game, the Packers who walloped them at their house 35-13 in the regular season, and the Patriots who beat them and everybody else in the preseason, regular season, and playoffs up to this point. That’s fun and exciting stuff but they never would have been there in under the BCS, it would’ve been Cowboys-Patriots who, when looking at the entire season, were probably better teams.

  • Robert M. Barga

    The problem is, these are students, and football is not only extremely taxing, but outright dangerous. 13 games is a lot for students, and that is all that it should be. So, unless we do something where we play 6 games a season, then seed, it is not going to happen.